It’s tempting to tell a grieving person to look to the future – to encourage them to have a happy life. What most people don’t understand is that your person is missing in the future, too. There’s no place their absence does not reach.
In her poem Burning the Old Year, Naomi Shihab Nye writes: where there was something and suddenly isn’t, an absence shouts…
I bet you can relate to that. No matter how friendly you may have been with the concept of death, or how long you had to “adjust” to an impending death, the reality of death and grief comes as a surprise. No one can fully prepare for the something that was there and suddenly is not.
Absence shouts from every angle, every corner of your life. There is nowhere it does not reach.
For a long time after Matt drowned, I expected him to simply walk back in. Walk back in to the kitchen from the bedroom. Walk back in to the coffee shop after parking the car. Walk back across the lot from the woods at the edge of the water. Just – please. Walk back in. His absence in my life, our life, echoed off of everything.
The echoes continue into a future we do not have. There is nowhere his absence does not reach.
And this is a thing many people outside your grief cannot understand: that you have not simply lost one person, at one point in time. You have lost their presence in every aspect of your life. You future has changed as well as your “now.”
As your grief unfolds, you will find more and more places their absence shouts. I don’t mean that as a downer. The truth is, as we live forward, we carry their absence with us. The absence exists because love exists. The only thing time will do is shift the balance, allowing more love to take over that absence, filling in the empty place with its own weight.
As you move through this coming week, my hope for you is that the love you feel equals the absence, that love takes up just as much space. May you feel your own love and the love of the one who has gone like the outgoing and incoming tides.
How about you? How has the absence of the one you love shown up in your present life? How has your future changed? Let us know in the comments.